FORT WORTH, TX (JUNE 15, 2022) — With Ms. Opal Lee at the helm, the new Fort Worth-based National Juneteenth Museum will be housed in a purposefully designed space dedicated to preserving the history of the Juneteenth holiday, celebrating the “breaking of the chains” since June 19, 1865, and serve as a global hub for discussions about freedom.
This Juneteenth, Opal Lee and her renowned collaborative team are moving forward to unveil design renderings and BIG plans for the National Juneteenth Museum, located in the Historic Southside of Fort Worth, TX. As an extension of her legacy, the museum will be the epicenter for education, preservation and celebration of Juneteenth nationally and globally. The new 50,000 square foot building, expected to break ground in 2023, will host exhibits, discussions and events about the significance of the African American path to freedom.
“Seeing the national museum moving forward is a dream fulfilled. I’ve had a little Juneteenth Museum in that very spot for almost 20 years, and to see it become a central place for discussion, collaboration and learning seems to be the providential next step – from my walking campaign to Washington, D.C., the petition, and having Juneteenth declared a federal holiday. It’s mind-boggling, but I’m glad to see it all come to pass.” – Ms. Opal Lee, Founding Board Member, National Juneteenth Museum
Meet the Collaborative Team
Lead designer BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and North Texas-based architect of record, African American-owned firm, KAI Enterprises were hired to create a building that captures the spirit of Juneteenth, expresses the historic gravity of the day both locally and globally, and celebrates the cultural heritage of the Historic Southside in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Our hope is that this building will become a gateway to the Historic Southside community of Fort Worth while serving as a national and global destination. Juneteenth is not only American history – it is world history.” says Douglass Alligood, Partner, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.
The project design embraces the local African American experience–at-large through motifs and symbolic touchpoints inspired by the gabled rooftops that define the Historic Southside neighborhood and the nova star, meaning ‘new star’. The nova star represents a new chapter for the African Americans looking ahead towards a more just future. At the center of the publicly accessible courtyard, a ‘five point’ star engraved in gold not only represents Texas, the last state to adopt and acknowledge the freedom of African American slaves – the star nods to the American flag’s 50 stars, representing the freedom of African Americans across the country.
Douglass continued, “This project is special to me on a personal level as well. After nearly 40 years in this profession, I have the opportunity to lead a design for a project that is focused on African American culture. Our engagement with Ms. Opal Lee and members of the community, to really understand their needs, is what informed a lot of the design principles. As a Black architect, this project is one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.”
“KAI is excited to be the Executive Architect working in concert with BIG as the vision outlined by Ms. Opal Lee of realizing her lifelong dream of making Juneteenth a National Holiday witnessed the signing in the Oval Office come to life in Fort Worth. As President of KAI and life-long learner, passionate about history, I’m honored to contribute to this significant and important part of the fabric of US History.” – Darren L. James, FAIA, NCARB
As the vision for the museum evolves into a historic location, its global significance is inspiring many. Frito-Lay North America, based in nearby Plano, Texas, kicked off project fundraising with the initial corporate seed money donation.
“Frito-Lay has been active in the community for more than 85 years. Our pledge to help create the National Juneteenth Museum further solidifies our commitment to uplifting people of color, businesses, and communities through the PepsiCo Racial Equality Journey,” says Steven Williams, PepsiCo Foods North America CEO. “We are proud to join the journey of the Juneteenth Museum and look forward to its construction in the years to come.”
For more information and to make a charitable donation, visit The National Juneteenth Museum’s website here.
About BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group
BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group is a Copenhagen, New York, Shenzhen, London and Barcelona based group of architects, designers, urbanists, landscape professionals, interior and product designers, researchers and inventors. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WeChat, www.big.dk
About KAI Enterprises
KAI is a full-service AEC firm whose core focus is Transforming Communities through Integrated Design & Construction Excellence. For over 40 years, KAI has been instrumental in improving the quality of life and environment in schools, communities and businesses across the nation with offices in Dallas-Fort Worth, St. Louis, Atlanta, Kansas City, San Antonio and Memphis. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, kai-db.com
About Frito-Lay North America
Frito-Lay North America is the $19 billion convenient foods division of PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP), which is headquartered in Purchase, NY. Frito-Lay snacks include Lay’s and Ruffles potato chips, Doritos tortilla chips, Cheetos snacks, Tostitos tortilla chips and branded dips, SunChips multigrain snacks and Fritos corn chips. The company operates 30+ manufacturing facilities across the U.S. and Canada, more than 200 distribution centers and services 315,000 retail customers per week through its direct-store-delivery model. fritolay.com, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.